31 August 2009

beach in pictures

Our first meal together after 2 weeks of traveling in 4 different directions was Java House to go, eaten outside Jomo Kenyata airport in Nairobi before flying off to Malindi. Our destination: Turtle Bay Beach Club near Malindi on Kenya's Indian Ocean coast.
Me and Ash smiling for the camera on our little crop duster plane flight from Nairobi to Malindi...lost of pieces were missing (arm rests, air vents, etc), and then there were these random alarm sounds (which turned out to be a cell phone game the girl in front of us was playing)...so we just smiled, shrugged our shoulders, said "TIA!", and hoped that we got safely to our destination...
...and we did, demonstrated by this photo..the view from our beach lounge chairs where we spent a good portion of the week turning pages of all kinds of books, and doing absolutely nothing!
These are my fabulously talented teammates windsurfing (Ashley, Nathan and Sarah from L to R)...I was VERY impressed...there was no falling off, toppling over, or careening into anything that I could see, just a lot of gracefully gliding around the bay.
I didn't actually see this event take place (I was on one of my daily walks down the beach with my ipod in hand/ear - which had varying degrees of effectiveness as a communicator of "don't bother me" to all the guys trying to talk to you, sell you stuff, get you to go snorkeling on their boat, etc), but about 20 pictures of Nathan and the Somali's camel were taken with my camera, so I figured I should post at least one of them.
dress up night
Aida na Salah
The 4 of us after a week together at Turtle Bay Beach Club. We didn't kill each other, and in fact look pretty rejuvinated it seems to me, and mighty smiley for the fact that we were about to board our shuttle to leave the beach behind...

Jomo Kenyata International Airport Nairobi...on the way home a 5 hour layover turned into 10...it's a long, somewhat funny, story, but probably only if you were there, so I'll spare you...

P.S - Webaleh Ashley for so faithfully bringing her camera out to take photos of us doing whatever it was we were doing...most of these pictures are hers (webaleh jump drive).

30 August 2009

Seeing #2 - This is why I blog

“Seeing of course is very much a matter of verbalization. Unless I call my attention to what passes before my eyes I simply won’t see it. It is as Ruskin says, ‘not merely unnoticed, but in the full, clear sense of the word, unseen.’ My eyes alone can’t solve elaborations…I have to say the words, describe what I’m seeing...if I want to notice the lesser cataclysms of valley life, I have to maintain in my head a running description of the present. It’s not that I’m observant; it’s just that I talk too much. Otherwise, especially in a strange place, I’ll never know what’s happening. Like a blind man at the ball game, I need a radio.” - Annie Dillard (Pilgram At Tinker Creek)

29 August 2009

salty, sandy, and cool wind. hot sun. oily sunscreen. white powder under feet. blue-greens. green-blues. coconut laden palms bowing in the evening tide. rocks. boats. driftwood. small people squealing in delight with the crashing of each wave. pages turning. creeping afternoon shade. low rolling oceanic roar. cotton white clouds. “you are okay? you want to drink something?” sun bleached blue lounge chair cushions. lobster red neighbors. brown waves of seaweed. palm fronds crackling in the breeze. booming techno base of 11am water aerobics. periodic sharing of literary insights/noteable quotations. ‘crepes time!’ falling asleep to the hum of the air conditioner ever so slightly muffling the disco tunes. “jambo!” whistles blowing. fresh, bright colorful array of kikoys. swim caution level flags changing from green to yellow. the somali’s camel lumbering up and down the beach looking for rider fares. sun sinking behind the roofs at dusk. the clinking of buffet plates. the laughter of friends. the quiet of nothing more to say. the anticipation of departure and return to life and responsibility. the kayak tipping when “lean!” is lost in the breeze. snorkeling along in pools of fish the likes of which I have only ever seen in Nemo. drinks with flowers of the tropics stuck in them. the slap of a card well played. alarm-less mornings. swimsuits slightly damp from yesterday’s fun. salt cleansing wonder of a hot shower. date nights and late nights. shorts. pants. jewelry. initial awkwardness of hanging out with close friends wearing what seems like next to nothing all day since everyday life involves showing not even one’s knees. beach shopping. dusting the sand out of the sheets before sleep. the snap of the sunscreen lid. the crust of salt/sand in the corners of your eyes. the beach.

15 August 2009

The Visit

Today is Saturday 15 August, and I have been a hostess for the past 5 weeks.  It has been fun, and I’m tired.  I just put my last guests for the summer on a plane last night.  I watched and kept track of them by the movement of the dusty tan “Life is good” hat as they wound through the check in lines at the BA counter behind the big glass windows from my perch on the sidewalk across the airport thoroughfare.  These last guests weren’t just any guests, they were my parents.

The visit starts at the airport in Entebbe, a 45 min. drive outside of Kampala on Tuesday evening 28 July.  Nathan and I got in the Zoolander and made great time, getting to the airport with plenty of time before his parents' KLM flight was to arrive.  We sat in the waiting area inside, and Nathan was all smiles, grinning from ear to ear, legs bouncing up and down in excitement and anticipation.  My parents were supposed to arrive first, but their flight from Nairobi was cancelled and they were rescheduled on one arriving a few hours later.  Now, keep in mind that not only is Nathan a bit like the second 'little' brother I never had (he's the same age as my 'little' sister Carrie) because of the tightness of our community in Bundibugyo, but my parents went to college with his mom, so there's a bit of  family history as well, a bit unbelievable that they were now arriving in Uganda on the same night to visit their kids who are working together in the middle of nowhere.  So there we sat...we got up to greet the flight as it arrived, Nathan peering over the crowds trying to spot his family.  When he did there were smiles and hugs all around.  We put their luggage in the vehicle and headed back in to wait for my parents.  When they finally wandered in, the second day jet-lag phase was written all over their faces (they had arrived in Nairobi the day before) but it was so good to see those 2 tired faces! Around midnight we headed back to the ARA where we had been staying with the 4 WHM Africa interns, discussed the plans for the morning, and sat around drinking Guiness (not me of course; gross!)

Wed. morning, I got up with the interns at 5:45am and piled into the Zoolander which was thankfully pre-loaded with about 10 trunks, and headed out to Entebbe to drop them off for their 9am BA flight. Now, along the Entebbe road on the way to the airport I had noticed dozens of police standing along the road in close intervals.  Thinking a bit like a certain Jennifer Myhre I know, I decided to count them as I headed back in towards town on the return trip (partially as a wakefulness tactic so I wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel, but partially out of simple curiousity).  258 police!!!!  It made me a bit nervous, wondering what was going on to warrant so much security...wondering what would happen to me in the vehicle by myself if something were to happen along the road...that also added to the pursuit of wakefulness. Before long there were other things to think about and wakefulness was no longer an issue :)

Back at the ARA, the Zoolander was loaded a second time with quite the load and like African travel should be, Nathan and I squeezed all of our parents and his brother (in addition to the two of us) into the vehicle with all of their stuff and began the 8 hour trek from Kampala to Bundibugyo.  Without a hitch, with lots of conversation and questions answered along the way, with "In your face chicken place" for lunch, and 8 hours later we pulled into the Myhre's, dusty and road weary, to greet them.

The next 5 days were packed!  Kwejuna distribution, team mtg. on peacemaking, couple days of rounds at the health center, community seminar on peacemaking, church, team worship, a Christ School staff seminar on peacemaking,  and then it was time to leave again.  There was so much I didn't get to show them, so much I wanted for them to see, people I wanted them to greet, meals I wanted for them to eat, places I wanted for them to walk...but the whirlwind tour must continue.  With Sarah we piled into Pat's graciously loaned to us vehicle and drove the 8 hours back to Kampala.  The next morning I saw Sarah off on her 9am BA flight (sound familiar?), got Pat a few new tires, and spent the rest of the day relaxing at the ARA.  

Then we took off for the east.  Headed through Jinja (including a stop at the Source of the Nile, and Bujagali falls - the site of one of the most fun days of my life - rafting the Nile) past Mbale to Sipi Falls, through the rice fields and terrain I had not yet seen the likes of in Uganda, we spent 2 full days hiking and reading.  I abseiled (repelled) down Sipi falls which was breathtaking!  We then headed back to Kampala and flew out of Entebbe on Monday morning, heading for Nairobi.  

My dad's cousin Jim Streit and his wife Bev, raised their three girls here in Nairobi while Jim has been a pilot for AIM Air and Bev has been developing relationships with all kinds of people in the Equestrian world here in Nairobi.  We arrived during a particularly hard time for them as they lost their first pilot in 34 years of AIM Air history last week in a crash over Kibera, along with an AIM Air mechanic.  They have been crazy busy, but so hospitable despite it all.  We have frequented Java House, visited the Elephant Orphanage, eaten delicious Ethiopian and Indian food, spent a day game driving in Nairobi National Park...fun times.  

I put mom and dad on a plane on thursday night and hopefully they've arrived back in Chicago safely by now.  I can't believe it's over.  I can't believe the time has come and gone.  Love you guys and thanks so much for coming to see my world here.  It was wonderful to share it with you.